Hornaday, Jr. Hammers Home His Third Career NCWTS Kentucky Speedway Victory
Kevin Harvick, Inc., (KHI) driver Ron Hornaday, Jr., scored his 50th career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) victory, his third series win at Kentucky Speedway through eight starts and third this season in tonight's "Kentucky 225." The 14-year NCWTS veteran and his No. 2 Hollywood Casino Chevrolet crossed the finish line 0.438 of a second ahead of Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon and his No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet in the fifth-closest series finish through 13 all-time events at the track.
Crew chief Bruce Cook successfully navigated Hornaday, Jr., through seven caution periods that covered 36 race laps and made a stellar race-winning call when he brought the No. 2 truck to pit road on Lap 134.
Hornaday, Jr., rejoined the 225-mile battle and assumed the race lead for a fourth and final time just six laps later when Dillon, the race pole sitter, dove his truck to the pit road.
Dillon exited the pits and mounted a furious charge toward the front, but the savvy Hornaday, Jr., expertly managed his truck's fuel mileage through the closing 11 race laps and captured the checkered flag along with his 10th top-five and 14th top-10 finish through 20 races this season.
He ended the night with a race-best 42 laps led.
"They ask, 'what's your favorite track?' I tell them the ones where I win. I've won three at Kentucky, so this is my most favorite right now. To see the fans come out, as cold as it is, to see what we accomplished tonight, that's pretty awesome.
"Bruce made an awesome call. We came in, everyone else stayed out and we put four (tires) on and ran the leaders down. We were running second and he (Austin Dillon) had to pit to come in and get fuel. We got an extra 20 laps on him. That's the call that won the race," Hornaday, Jr., said.
Dillon delivered his third consecutive and eighth top-five finish of the season while raising his season top-10 finish total to 12. He extended his series championship lead from two to three points ahead of Turner Motorsports driver James Buescher, who placed third tonight and notched fifth top-five finish in his past eight starts in the No. 31 Exide Chevrolet.
"I was trying everything and driving really hard, but the right front started pushing really bad and I got tight in traffic. I could gain a lot on entry to the center on him (Hornaday, Jr.), but that was really our only chance. Other than that, I got so tight there on the last run.
"The guys did a really good job on pit road all night, but we had a little problem with the water temp getting really high at one point and I was getting worried about it, so I backed off and that's where we lost some of our lead. It was a good points day for us, everyone's still close. We'll go to Las Vegas (on Oct. 15), a place where we won last year, and take this same truck and see if we can do it again," Dillon said.
KHI driver Nelson Piquet, Jr., who led three times tonight for 40 laps, took fourth in the No. 8 Autotrac/ Qualcomm Chevrolet and Brian Ickler rounded the race top five in the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. Tonight's race set two new NCWTS track records with 18 lead changes and 11 different leaders.
Action continues tomorrow at Kentucky Speedway with an open-wheel doubleheader. The fun begins at 10:15 a.m., with an IZOD IndyCar Series (IICS) autograph session just outside Gate 18 at the track. The Firestone Indy Lights "Kentucky 100" is set for a 12:30 p.m., start and the green flag will wave for the IZOD IndyCar Series "Kentucky Indy 300" at 2:50 p.m.
Tickets remain and will be available at the speedway gates.
"Kentucky 225" extra: -The temperature at the start of tonight's race was 48 degrees Farenheit, the coldest on record at Kentucky Speedway. The previous coldest starting temperature was 55 degrees Farenheit for a May 13, 2006 ARCA Racing Series event.
Story by Mike Schmaltz